Written in Ink

If Panties Fall w/ No One to Hear Them, Do They Make a Sound?

Snacktastic's post made me think of James Lilek's hilarious web site, chock full of old ads, magazines and the like. If you've never checked out his books The Gallery of Regrettable Food and Interior Desecrations, you are really missing out. He has shorter versions of the book on his web site too.


So there is this utterly bizarre artist he profiles whose specialty was pictures of women's panties falling off in public. You should look at the whole series, but here are a few to enjoy.

Intro: It is unfair to judge Art Frahm by these illustrations. He did many that were much, much worse. (And better, too.) But the falling-panty theme is a staple of his work. This was his signature touch. When I first put up the site a million years ago, I thought it was ridiculous - underwear with elastic bands just didn't slip down. It's like a series of paintings in which bras spontaneously combust.

Since then I've heard from women of the era say yes oh my yes. It happened. But did it happen like this? Arms full, wind blowing up the skirt, some leering guys in the background? No. This is a glimpse into someone's fantasy - a world where men regularly happen across women whose undergarments have fluttered to their ankles. A world where underwear failure in the middle of an everyday chore is a signal, a cue, an invitation. Her pants are down and she can't run. Have at it, boys!


Please explain how our underwear can fall off when you're standing in the posture of the Colossus of Rhodes. As usual, she's looking at us, but there's no embarrassment here - just a sort of nonchalant boy-what-a-day expression. In fact, her problem seems to be our gaze, not the fact that her underwear has fallen off on a streetcorner. If we weren't there, you get the feeling she'd just stare straight ahead, panties around her ankles, and then hobble across the street when the traffic permitted.


Ha ha. Get it? Going down. Once again, Frahm's inability to grasp underwear physics is at play here. The underwear obviously did not begin to slip until after the woman began to step out of the elevator - and that's preposterous. Underwear just doesn't work that way. Where, exactly, is she coming from? If she's going down, then she was up above floor two - not the usual location for a grocery store. (She's obviously disembarking, unless she makes a habit of backing into elevators.) So she's been to a combination hat shop and grocery store on the upper floor of an office building. Fine. At least she kept her purse closed, a modest touch underscored by the hand in her groin that holds down the dress. There's actually a reason her dress is billowing - air flowing from the crack between the car and and the floor. Skirt lifting gusts usually don't flow from the shaft on the first floor, but this is called artistic license.


Big old beer-guy Tubby's grinnin', 'cause this never happens to him or his missus - mainly 'cause he don't wear underwear, and she wears just a gunny sack tied with a rope under her dress. Haw haw! Later, Tubby will realize that he has special powers of perception - X-ray vision and super-sensitive hearing. What else could explain the fact that in a bowling alley full of noise and collision, he heard underwear fall? What else could explain that he laughed at a sight he ought not to have been able to see, because she was on the other side of the automatic ball return?

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